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DISH '08: Morning Drinks

The best part of waking up…Put a little pep in your step with alcohol-spiked breakfast drinks

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BY JEN GRANEY

You don't have to be a full-fledged alcoholic, or even a burgeoning one, to appreciate an adult beverage in the morning. Whether you take your morning coffee with a splash of whiskey, or like to swig orange juice with a little champagne, it's easy to infuse the morning with some extra zip. The nice thing about these drinks is that you're free to experiment (which is not to say you should make pre-lunch drinking a routine). But some Sunday mornings, a mimosa over brunch with friends is just what you need to refresh your memory -- or wipe it clean -- after Saturday night.

Mimosas

The word sounds like something your grandmother wore, or conjures images of your eccentric aunt sipping away behind shades in the sun. Really, mimosas are that refreshing orange juice-and-champagne combination that's super-easy to mix up yourself.

            It was supposedly invented back in 1925 at a Parisian hotel, and the appeal of the simple, chilled drink is obvious to any hangover victim: you probably didn't get drunk on it the night before, so the sight of it won't turn your stomach. Besides, the drink is kind of classy, since it's usually served in a champagne flute. (But tastes just fine out of a juice glass.)

            To make mimosas by the book, follow the standard recipe, mixing three parts champagne to two parts orange juice. It's simple enough, but plenty of variations exist.

            Tom VanGorder, manager at Marketview Liquor in Henrietta, recommends mixing the drink one part orange juice (but not one from concentrate, as those are usually more tart) to one part dry champagne or sparkling wine. Use brut or extra dry, he says, depending on how sweet you want the drink. Brut will be drier, and the orange juice already gives the drink plenty of sweetness.

            "When making mimosas," Van Gorder says, "you really don't need to spend much at all." He spouts off a list of seven or eight sparkling wines from New York state, Washington state, California, France, and Spain for possible use in a mimosa; the cheapest costs $5.99, and the priciest on his list is a mere $12.99.

            For a spin on the traditional, VanGorder says you can switch the orange juice out in favor of ruby red grapefruit. Then again, you could also switch out the champagne in favor of vodka or gin, depending on the contents of your liquor cabinet.

Bloody Mary

A Bloody Mary can be a meal in itself -- and a healthy-sounding one at that -- despite its morbid name. (Ever say "Bloody Mary, bloody Mary, bloody Mary," over and over in the mirror as a kid? Nothing to do with the drink, really, but still creepy.)

            The standard ingredients -- vodka and tomato juice -- can be joined by any of the following to create a more potent, or at least spicier, drink: Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, beef bouillon, horseradish, celery, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, or lemon juice. Garnishes range from the aforementioned celery stalk to olives, pickles, carrots, mushrooms, and even asparagus, shrimp, or cheese, all making the Bloody Mary sound more soup than drink.

            As with most cocktails, the origins are varied and disputed. Some say the Bloody Mary was conceived in Paris, in the Roaring 20's (like the mimosa), while others trace it back to a guy in the 30's just looking to clear his head after a particularly bad hangover. Either way, it's agreed that the drink began as plain tomato juice and vodka; since then, the spices have been added, and many variations have been concocted. A few interesting takes include the Bloody Geisha (in which sake replaces the vodka), the Bloody Pirate (rum replaces vodka), the "Screw Mary" (contains equal parts vodka, orange juice, and tomato juice), and the Bloody Maureen (which mixes Guinness and tomato juice.)

            Mario's Italian Steakhouse (2740 Monroe Avenue, Pittsford) is renowned for its Sunday Brunch Bloody Mary, and bartender Kurt Smith kindly shared the recipe:

2 ounces vodka

Dash Italian red wine

Dash Sherry wine

Pinch celery salt

Salt and pepper

7 drops Worcestershire sauce

5 drops hot sauce

1 (6-ounce) container tomato juice

Celery stalks

Cherry tomatoes & lime wedge

Combine all of the ingredients in a highball glass containing ice, stir well, and serve with a celery stick and cherry tomato.

Coffee & Liquor

If you need to start your day with a cup of coffee, it's always an option to do it Irish style with a bit of Irish cream or Irish whiskey. The flavor can be intense, and is especially welcome on a chilly morning, or anytime you need an extra kick in the pants. Boulder Coffee Co. serves up a Canadian version that mixes espresso, bourbon, maple syrup, and coffee. Other options here include "Millionaire" coffee -- it's got Bailey's Irish cream, Frangelico, coffee, and steamed milk -- and the simpler Italian coffee, which mixes espresso with Sambuca and coffee.

            For a simpler at-home take, make your standard morning cup (grind the beans, use a French press, pour it good and strong), then add a shot of whiskey and/or Irish cream. If you go for a second, consider pouring the liquor with a lighter hand.

            And for those of us who prefer a simple pint for breakfast, consider that Enright's Thirst Parlor (582 Monroe Avenue) opens daily at 8 a.m.

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